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NASA to Reveal Finalists for Next Robotic Solar System Mission Today

NASA will announce the finalists for its next robotic mission to explore the solar system on Dec. 20, 2017.
NASA will announce the finalists for its next robotic mission to explore the solar system on Dec. 20, 2017. (Image credit: NASA)

NASA will unveil the finalists for its next robotic mission to explore the solar system today (Dec. 20) and you can follow it live online. 

"The mission, targeted to launch in the mid-2020s, would be the fourth in NASA's New Frontiers portfolio — a series of cost-capped missions led by a principal investigator," NASA officials said in a statement

 The space agency will announce the finalist concepts during a teleconference at 2 p.m. EST (1900 GMT). You can listen live here on, courtesy of NASA. The finalists were chosen from 12 proposals for missions aimed at exploring a wide range of targets in our solar system.

NASA gave scientists six themes to consider for their mission proposals. Those themes were: 

  • Comet Surface Sample Return
  • Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin Sample Return
  • Ocean Worlds (Titan and/or Enceladus)
  • Saturn Probe
  • Trojan Tour and Rendezvous
  • Venus In Situ Explorer

Past New Frontiers missions include NASA's Juno probe now exploring Jupiter, the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample-return mission currently on its way to the asteroid Bennu. 

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Tariq Malik

SPACE.COM EDITOR IN CHIEF — Tariq joined the team in 2001 as a staff writer, and later editor, covering human spaceflight, exploration and space science. He became's Managing Editor in 2009. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Google+, Twitter and on Facebook.